Sleep apnea affects the way you breathe when you’re sleeping. In untreated sleep apnea, breathing is briefly interrupted or becomes very shallow during sleep. These breathing pauses typically last between 10 to 20 seconds and can occur up to hundreds of times a night, jolting you out of your natural sleep rhythm. As a consequence, you spend more time in light sleep and less time in the deep, restorative sleep you need to be energetic, mentally sharp, and productive the next day.

This chronic sleep deprivation results in daytime sleepiness, slow reflexes, poor concentration, and an increased risk of accidents. Sleep apnea can also lead to serious health problems over time, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and weight gain. But with treatment you can control the symptoms, get your sleep back on track, and start enjoying what it’s like to be refreshed and alert every day.

Types of Sleep Apnea

  • OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA  is the most common type of sleep apnea. It occurs when the soft tissue in the back of your throat relaxes during sleep and blocks the airway, often causing you to snore loudly.
  • CENTRAL SLEEP APNEA is a much less common type of sleep apnea that involves the central nervous system, occurring when the brain fails to signal the muscles that control breathing. People with central sleep apnea seldom snore.
  • MIXED OR COMPLEX is a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.


Anatomy of a sleep apnea episode

As airflow stops during a sleep apnea episode, the oxygen level in your blood drops. Your brain responds by briefly disturbing your sleep enough to kick start breathing—which often resumes with a gasp or a choking sound. If you have obstructive sleep apnea, you probably won’t remember these awakenings. Most of the time, you’ll stir just enough to tighten your throat muscles and open your windpipe. In central sleep apnea, you may be conscious of your awakenings.


Effects of Sleep Apnea

The effects of sleep apnea are varied but there is one proven and very dangerous side effect. When a person suffers from sleep apnea, their body is not getting the oxygen that it needs in order to function properly.
People with sleep apnea stop breathing while they are sleeping for between just a few seconds up to a full minute. This causes a buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood. The heart then begins to pump harder to try to remove the carbon dioxide from the blood. This adds a great deal of stress on the heart when it occurs repeatedly.

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can have some devastating effects on the body if it goes untreated. The effects of sleep apnea vary depending on the severity of the condition. In the beginning the sleep apnea side effects may only be that the person feels tired and drowsy during the day. They may feel as if they are never able to get a good night of sleep no matter how long they are in bed. That is probably true if the person has sleep apnea.

Common side effects of sleep apnea:

    • Heart
    • Stroke
    • Blood Pressure/Hypertension
    • Pulmonary Hypertension
    • Diabetes
    • Obesity
    • Cancer
    • GERD/Digestion
    • Headache
      • Psychological
      • Irritability/Depression/Mood Swings
      • Hypothyroidism
      • Insomnia
      • Accidents at Work
      • Accidents while Driving
      • Disability
      • Death
      • …and more!

Many patients with sleep apnea have been found to have high blood pressure due to the extra work out that the heart gets in order to compensate for the lack of oxygen. If the condition is not treated, the strength of the heart will deteriorate and the heart will begin pumping blood at a much lower force than is necessary to continue the proper function of the body. The heart is the first organ that experiences the results of untreated sleep apnea.

There are other health risks that come with sleep apnea. While the heart is the most important concern as far as effects of sleep apnea, other areas of your life can be affected as well. People who suffer from sleep apnea are more accident prone then those that can get a solid night of sleep. This is because they are woken up several times during their sleep to try to catch their breath. They feel tired and have low focus abilities during the day which leads to a higher rate of accidents.

The reflex time for patients that suffer from untreated sleep apnea is slower than normal as well. The reflexes and hand eye coordination depends greatly on being rested enough to be able to focus. Sometimes the simplest task feels impossible if you are not able to concentrate and focus on it thoroughly. This leads to aggravation and a higher risk of making a mistake or causing injury.

Anyone that has had to stay awake for a great deal of time can tell you that their emotions are affected the following day. Being overly tired can lead to higher levels of frustration, and sometimes sadness, because things seem to be very overwhelming when we don’t get enough sleep. Lack of sleep is a serious sleep apnea side effect. This increases emotional stress and can lead to depression and the inability to cope with everyday daily stresses.

The effects of sleep apnea can be severe for both the person that is suffering from it and their families. Waking up gasping for air is a scary thing to witness and family members can be robbed of their solid sleep as well. While not everyone has the exact same symptoms or severity of condition, all of the sleep apnea side effects should be treated with care.